If Rohit can do what he did in ODIs, it will be great for Indian cricket: Virat Kohli
India skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday said that if Rohit Sharma succeeded in the opening role for Test cricket, then their batting order at the top would become more lethal and different from anywhere in the world.
The team management decided to use Rohit’s services at the top in the longest format of the game and even former cricketers threw their weight behind the ODI opener. Speaking a day ahead of the first Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, Kohli said, “If he does that (succeeds in the opening role), then our batting order at the top becomes more lethal. It is difficult to have a player like that to not start every time.”
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“If he comes into his own then the whole batting order looks a completely different batting order anywhere in the world,” added the skipper. Rohit averages 39.62 in 27 matches in Test cricket. He failed to score in South Africa’s sole warm-up game before the series.
“We are not looking to rush him. There is a different pattern you follow in India and different abroad. Opening is a spot where you have to give a player space to understand his own game. He will be given space to find his game and come into his own,” said Kohli.
Giving his own example, Kohli explained that Test cricket is about finding one’s own game in different conditions. “In Test cricket I started at (number) six then came up to four. It was more of a mental thing. If you can convince yourself you can do it. Test cricket is about finding your game in different conditions,” he said.
Kohli expects Rohit to take the game forward like former cricketer Virender Sehwag used to. “We are not looking at a certain kind of display of batting from Rohit. It is about him finding his game at the top. Yes, his strength is to take the game forward. Like what Viru bhai used to do for the team for a long period.
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“So, it is not as if someone would have told Viru bhai to attack and get a hundred before lunch. His natural instinct took over and he could demolish attacks once he felt comfortable,” he further explained.
Putting his weight behind Rohit, Kohli said, “He definitely has the ability. If the wicket is challenging and then obviously you won’t see him smashing the ball, he knows what to do. For Rohit as well, clarity of role knowing that you have to play in a certain way, is very crucial for a player and for us the communication happened long ago.
“But we could not see a situation but now there is a situation and it is an ideal time to go ahead with it because we have spoken about it. ODIs was same with him. He was batting in the middle order and then suddenly opening conversations happened and within 6-8 months he was opening and we all know what happened after that. If he can do what he did in ODIs, it will be great for Indian cricket.”
With eyes on ICC World Test Championship, Kohli said that Rohit is an experienced player and would find the template that he wants to in Test cricket if given an opportunity. “We have given people opportunities in the past. Mayank came into the syetem, KL Rahul had been there for a while, Vijay was there for a while. So there will always be room for people to come in because of their performances.
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“But we feel because we have a Test championship to look forward to and Rohit’s been in the Test set up for a long time. It’s about providing him the opportunity and find that template that he wants to in Test cricket,” he said in conclusion.
India, who are aiming to win a record-breaking 11th consecutive series at home, need to be wary of South Africa’s potent pace attack comprising Rabada, Philander and Ngidi.